Sabar Toubab
March 12, 2008 7:35 AM   Subscribe

Ashley Maher is a Canadian singer living in Santa Monica, but her music comes straight from Senegal. She also dances a mean sabar (YouTube link).
posted by mike3k (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yay another white girl who thinks she's black.
posted by zouhair at 8:29 AM on March 12, 2008

At least that's a change from MJ.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:47 AM on March 12, 2008

If this woman has been doing traditional dances from Russia or Sweden or Spain you wouldn't have said a damn thing, but you have a problem with it because of the color of the people whose tradition this is?

She is pretty good. My neighbors are better, but they have been doing it since they were kids. (All the little girls line up on the rooftops to watch and imitate when the women have a sabar.)
posted by Nothing at 11:25 AM on March 12, 2008

She moved to the states with her family when she was FIVE. How in the hell does that make her "Canadian" except in an arbitratry bureaucratic sense?

I hate it when Canadians insist on claiming emigrants (not "ex-pats" a la Feist who are just backpackers, really, but ones like this chick and Phil Hartman, whose family emigrated to the US when he was nine) as "Canadian." And no I don't care if she uses the term herself, she's still committed to that capital-punishment-having, more-money-on-prisons-than-on-university-spending, governor-vetoing-same-sex-marriage-loving Valhalla called "California."

I like her music though.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:51 AM on March 12, 2008

Oooh. I like her music. From the sabar dancing link, I came across this video about Sabar dancing in Senegal. Considering Senegal has a huge Islamic population it's amazing how people can synchrotize many disparate elements into their culture. Super cool.
posted by one teak forest at 12:18 PM on March 12, 2008

Yay another white girl who thinks she's black.

Sorry, zouhair, but I gotta say, that's a cheap shot and I think it's beneath you. If this post was about a black African concert violinist, would you have said "Yay another black girl who thinks she's white." ? If the answer is yes, then you should probably admit that you believe people should stay within some sort of rigidly defined sphere of musical activity that is historically identified with their "race", and should not attempt to engage in the study or performance of any music that falls outside those predetermined parameters.

Happily, however, that's not the case and never has been. Musicians on every continent, throughout history (and now more than ever) have been influenced by the music of other cultures, have adopted other "race's" techniques and styles, and have, to varying extents, internalized them and changed them and reworked them and carried on the continual evolution of music. And I'd argue that the world is much richer for it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:04 PM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just listened to "Lucky". Her backing band sounds pretty authentic — up until her vocals kick in, along with the Bruce Hornsby piano, at which point it sounds like the "continual evolution" going on involves cross-breeding Senegalese pop with smooth jazz, to which I say no thank you. (I was half expecting a saxophone solo, but I couldn't finish the track so I don't know if that actually happened.

It's great if this kind of thing encourages more people to get into Youssou N'Dour and Baaba Maal, but I'm reminded of Robert Christgau's review of an Ali Farka Touré album (the great Niafunké) in which he commented on Touré's slow recovery from "his harrowing experience with Ry Cooder's sense of rhythm," a reference to the blandly Grammy-friendly album Touré and Cooder recorded together in 1994. (Touré returned to Africa and didn't record music for years afterward.)

My point is just that there are some artists who are very successful at, as flapjax puts it, reworking and evolving music internationally. Where African music is concerned, Talking Heads, Paul Simon, and even Vampire Weekend come immediately to mind. Other artists dilute the music and end up sounding like tourists. Zouhair's point was blunt, but I can imagine it may be born out of legitimate frustration with the appropriation of rich international sounds to increasingly bland North American ends. That's how I feel, anyway.
posted by Joey Bagels at 10:16 AM on March 13, 2008

Zouhair's point was blunt, but I can imagine it may be born out of legitimate frustration with the appropriation of rich international sounds to increasingly bland North American ends.

I certainly wouldn't disagree with that, and I'd never argue that all musical appropriation or "heavily-influenced-by-foreign-cultures" music is good. Certainly there's lots of really bad music out there, no shortage of it. And I think it's good you're giving Zouhair the benefit of the doubt, though if that's what he meant, that's what he should've said, rather than the casually tossed-off white/black one liner.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:37 PM on March 13, 2008

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